HeatherN explains how masculinity and heterosexuality have traditionally been assumed to be one and the same in our society, and points to how this is changing.
There are many conversations here at The Good Men Project that focus around the ways in which sexuality and gender are falsely equivocated. I talk a lot about how gender identity and sexual orientation get conflated in our society, and this article on Feministing explains further why I mean.
Sexual orientation is so closely tied to gender, that simply by identifying as non-straight, a man no longer qualifies as masculine. At the very least, he will be forced to explain and defend his masculinity. As that article points out, the term “straight acting” is synonymous with “masculine.”
It works in the reverse as well. A man who does not conform to traditionally masculine behaviour often feels forced to explain and defend his heterosexuality. Our society has placed a stigma on both, non-masculine behaviour in men and non-heterosexuality, and then tied them together. Fail at one and you risk further stigma by being assumed to have failed at the other as well.
That’s the bad. The good news is that this is changing. For one thing, gender nonconformity and non-heterosexuality are becoming more accepted in society at large. So perhaps at some point, being assumed to be non-masculine or non-heterosexual won’t carry with it such a social stigma. For another thing, masculinity itself is being redefined. That’s part of what The Good Men Project is all about. (I know because I read the “About Us” page).
What do you think? Are masculinity and heterosexuality inextricably linked? Do you see evidence of society changing to accept more diverse examples of masculinity?
Image of male symbol courtesy of Shutterstock